Teaching HPC Systems Administrators

The ability to grow and teach systems professionals relies on having the capacity to let students interact with supercomputers at levels not given to normal users. In this paper we describe the teaching methods and hardware platforms used by Purdue Research Computing to train undergraduates for HPC systems-facing roles. From Raspberry Pi clusters to the LittleFe project, previous work has focused on providing miniature hardware platforms and developing curriculums for teaching. Recently, we have developed and employed a method using virtual machines to reach a wider audiences, created best practices, and removed barriers for approaching coursework. This paper outlines the system we have designed, expands on the benefits and drawbacks over hardware systems, and discusses the failures and successes we have had teaching HPC System Administrators.